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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Luca portrait in progress 1

The past couple weeks I’ve been sharing a “Little Jewel” portrait. This is another portrait type I do, called a Grisaille (pronounced GREEZ-eye), which is a single-color portrait. There will be a little surprise in it at the end. This is the first day’s work on Luca, a black Lab.

I’ve done 8 portraits for this client. She has an eye for spotting which photos will make the most striking Grisailles and requests them. I think Grisailles are an under-appreciated portrait type. They can be very beautiful. Grisaille can be done in any single-color: shades of blue, shades of brown, etc. Traditionally Grisaille is done in black, white, and shades of grey, like this portrait.

Grisaille colored pencil portrait of black Lab, Labrador Retriever dog

Pencil drawaing portrait of black Lab in progress in the art studio

In the studio with the client's photo on the monitor. You'll notice I’m using only 4 pencils.

Black, white, and two greys.

Prismacolor pencils

Here are the pencils, and the swatches that I make to guide me while I'm working - LOL. (I'm laughing because usually my swatches are on a long strip with at least a dozen pencil colors.)

I'm using two shades of grey: a light grey and a dark grey. The paper provides the mid-range grey. By applying the pencils to the artwork lightly or more heavily, I get the entire range of shades from white to black.

Grisailles are my least expensive portrait type.


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